With record sales and an injury-free Poster Sprint - the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival Opening Day gets a gold medal.
Sometimes theatre can be a full-on contact sport.
Posters and promo material are a key tactic for directors, actors, and producers to make their show stand out from the 154-or-so other shows vying for the same audience at every Fringe Festival. But when the Toronto Fringe moved its central hub from The Tranzac to the Honest Ed’s parking lot last year, the available postering real estate declined. Thus began a new kick-off tradition: the poster sprint.
After opening remarks from Fringe’s executive producer, Gideon Arthurs, as well as theatre impressario David Mirvish and councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), about 250 Fringe artists, crew members, and whomever they could recruit lined up against the chalk line and waited for MP Olivia Chow (NDP, Trinity-Spadina) to ring the bell. At the sound, they sprinted to the poster wall set up behind the Fringe Club’s Box Office, game faces on and elbows up. Some even in promo T-shirts and costumes.
At last year’s sprint, things got a little messy. Some artists lost their footing and got, well, a bit “trampled,” said the Toronto Fringe’s publicist Heather Ervin. But this year was much more civil, mostly because the veterans that had seen last year’s event learned a few tricks—like pre-cutting pieces of tape and sticking them to their arms, or pre-taping the posters themselves. Other Fringers, who Ervin kept nameless, even hired younger, possibly more nimble representatives to run in their stead.
All in all, nobody got trampled this year, and all 10 boards were completely covered in less than one minute. A success! And with record-breaking opening day ticket and beer tent sales, which was announced later yesterday night, the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival is off to a running start.